Whenever individuals find themselves in the public speaking spotlight, there are three forces at work. Most people lump them all together and call it “nerves.” That nervous feeling reacts to the sudden awareness of the three-headed monster approaching you. It sounds like a fantasy but these forces are real – and ever present. To tame the beast, find a Public Speaking Class that looks at the three heads separately.


The Three-Headed Monster


The energy of attention is the strongest of the three forces and the trigger for the other two. Whenever you speak to even one person you can feel the energy of their presence and they can feel yours. Increasing the number of people you are addressing increases attention or focus. It is a very real condition, just like the weather. You can’t change it, and you can’t ignore it. In your Public Speaking Class, you see it for what it is. The energy of attention is the main reason you always feel excited when you speak to a group. The larger the group, the higher the level of attention.


The second force that suddenly enters a public speaker’s awareness is the sense of judgment. The word judgment itself often gets a bad rap. No one likes judgmental people, and a final judgment sounds so ominous and final. Judgment is also the sense that your listeners use to determine if you are indeed “driving the bus” and if they are comfortable following along. This is what they are supposed to do and what you want them to do.


The last head on the monster is the fear of consequences. This force is not as strong as the first two, but it is constantly in the back of your mind. It can be a general feeling of wanting to make good impressions and taking advantage of this opportunity to advance your career. On a personal level, you may also fear stumbling and letting yourself down once again.


Getting Wet


Fear is anxiety over what you think is going to happen. When you know what will happen, you can better prepare yourself. It’s comparable to standing at the edge of a lake and worrying about whether you will get wet when you jump in. You can choose not to jump in. But you go to the lake when you have to give a speech or presentation!


Your Public Speaking Class will teach you that habituation is the scientific word for acceptance of circumstances. Becoming accustomed to anything will happen over time. Because the rush of energy in the opening moments of public speaking is so sudden and overwhelming, your body reacts with a fight, flight or freeze response. You can condition yourself to lessen this response if you recognize what is going on, and you can ride the initial wave of energy.


Changing the Pattern


Now that you know the cause of your nervousness, how do you stop your body from repeating the same behavior repeatedly? The fight, flight, or freeze response causes tightness, a clenching of the diaphragm muscle and shallow breathing. By focusing on your diaphragm muscle, you will ease the tension and increase your inhalation of air vital to speaking and moving things forward. Here is a simple exercise we teach in our Public Speaking Class to help you regain control.


Inhale slowly over four seconds. Then, exhale even more slowly. The amount of time that an individual can exhale will vary. Try to allow all of the air in your lungs to escape slowly. Once you have reached that point, resist the urge to breathe in too quickly. Wait for three to four seconds as if you are calmly sitting at the bottom of a peaceful pool of water. Then, take a long, slow inhalation. This is the key to the exercise and the key to your relaxation and control. Now, slowly repeat this exercise, extending the length of your exhalation. Ensure you always attempt to squeeze out the last remaining air in your lungs. As you repeat this exercise, you should feel an increased sense of calm and control.


Give It Time


Overcoming public speaking fear takes time and repetition. In your Public Speaking Classes, you will learn to eliminate the element of surprise, and your odds for success will greatly increase. Your comfort, confidence, and career depend on your ability to deal with fear and harness the power of public speaking.